Charity that doesn’t give much 58



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Many of us here donate to charity, particularly at Christmastime, keenly giving back to those who need it more than we do.  But sadly, charity isn’t always what it looks like, and today it is timely to talk about the difference between good and bad charities and how we can tell the difference, or even if we can tell the difference.

We’re a generous lot here in Australia, according to ATO statistics, about 4.6 million Australians donate to charity every year. But have you ever stopped to consider where your money might be going?

When we donate, we all think altruistically that the funds are going to get to the end-goal – the people and organisations that really need it.  We know in our logical centre that some of the money will be poured into administration and management costs… but how much of our money reaches the end goal?  We take a look.  And how would it make you feel if you found out only a portion was getting to the right people in some charities?

According to one news report, in the USA, The Kanye West Foundation, founded to support teen dropouts, spent $553,826 in 2009 on salaries, travel, and other administrative expenses. Only $573 actually went to charity. The charity closed mysteriously in 2011.

In Australia, there has been a Charity Watchdog in place for some time in the for of the Australian Charities and Not For Profits Commission, but its powers might make you cringe when you hear what these rather corporatised vehicles can do with funds, and how little of it gets to some of the pledged causes.

Website SheKnows did some digging… and you might be surprised by what they found.

World Vision

According to a recent CHOICE report, in 2010 World Vision delivered $271.6 million to its causes around the world, and spent around $37.7 million on fundraising. This is roughly in line with the charity’s publicly-disclosed financial breakdown, which reveals that they spend around 78.8 per cent of funds on direct charity work, 11.5 per cent on fundraising, and 9.7 per cent on administration.

Total funds directed to core charitable work: 78.8 per cent

Surf Life Saving

The Daily Telegraph did some sleuthing and found that Surf Life Saving Foundation Incorporated is one of the worst offenders when it comes to frittering away donations. It spent a whopping 62 per cent of its $23.8 million gross fundraising revenue on administration costs, leaving just 38 per cent of donations to go towards the costs of keeping our beaches safe.

Total funds directed to core charitable work: 38 per cent


Animal welfare charity RSPCA is comprised of a national organisation, with individual hubs in each state or territory. So, depending on where you live, you may be donating to head office or one of the state-wide affiliates. The specifics of how your donations are spent may change slightly as a result, but we can look at the NSW breakdown as a guide: Here, funds are sliced with 9 per cent spent on admin, 18 per cent spent on marketing and fundraising, and 73 per cent on direct animal welfare work.

Total funds directed to core charitable work:73 per cent

The Daily Telegraph provided this research last year:



In contrast some of the less scrutinised charitable vehicles out there have plenty of good intent, but perhaps too many overheads to allow the funds to reach their community.  And I suspect if there were a database like MySchools where we could compare every Australian charity in terms of the CEO’s salary as a percentage of total turnover it might make us all sit up and reconsider.

In one report, a charitable trust which donates to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital has lost tens of millions of dollars while still paying its corporate trustee millions in fees, according to a charities lobby group.

The US Government has stepped into what seems to be some considerable rorting of the charitable system in their country, and named and shamed the 50 worst charities in the USA last year.

Do you donate to charity?  Are you skeptical of where your money is going? 


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Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Exactly, so many charities (most if the truth was known) use most of our donated dollars in administration costs including CEO salaries. Makes my blood boil to think that 1% of every $ is going where it is meant to. Disgrace is the only word I can think of!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I stopped giving when we. Became pensioner if we give we don’t see where it goes and that is bad so it stays in my pocket To many fat cats

  3. I give to the RSPCA. Hopefully the animals get most of the dollars. Don’t trust the other charities especially the church ones.

  4. I remember hearing this a long time ago and I am very picky who I give donations too. I know they have to have administration cost, but time they put who they are raising the funds for first. Not impressed with some of the CEO salaries either.

  5. I don’t trust many. I wish also there was a data base to go see what CEO are paid etc. % to overheads and particularly the% to advertising and sending more junk if you do donate.

    1 REPLY
    • The bits and pieces they send asking you to donate. Address labels, notebooks, cards etc. Then prizes for the amount you raise (especially children)

  6. Don’t give to charity any more and haven’t for years.
    Years ago I was doing some renovations and had 2 very good single beds that I phoned a very large and well known charity about.
    Told them over the phone I had 2 single bed mattresses, 2 bases and 2 headboards, mattress and bases weren’t stained and were in good condition.
    On the phone they seemed over the moon and thanked me and would send the van out to collect.
    Van with 2 volunteers duly turned up but refused the mattresses saying they never accept mattresses.
    Tried to explain to them that the girl on the phone never said anything like that and she was well aware that it was mattresses and bases.
    I then asked them what was I supposed to do with 2 mattresses?
    They didn’t seem to care and got a bit mouthy
    I told them to just leave it and go away and I put the lot on Gumtree for $250 and sold them within a week.

    1 REPLY
    • The same happened to me when I had to clear out my dad’s home after he passed away. I had a whole house of furniture and white goods but the charities didn’t want them. What ever happened to “beggars can’t be choosers”.

  7. I believe the Salvos are pretty good

    2 REPLY
    • cleaned out mother -in laws house and phoned Salvos.Sorry but we don,t take this or that,glasses not at all.Sold all the crystal glasses to a dealer.Never again to a charity.

      1 REPLY
      • Hi Pamela,
        Had a similar experience and St Vinnies was just as bad.
        No matresses, I can understand that, but good, solid furniture in excellent condition, they wouldn’t take it because it was “too old fashioned.” They were just so picky. Wanted the “collectables” but nothing else. So I sent them off empty handed.

        2 REPLY
        • Margaret Tanner, not the charities who are picky. If the customers won’t buy it, it’s more of a liability. It is hard to give away good furniture, let alone sell it.
          I support World Vision and Red Cross regularly and buy Christmas cards to support a charity. I don’t give over the phone though. I do wish charities would stop on-selling my number. I can’t support everyone!!!!

        • I was also knocked back because furniture was too old fashioned
          Did manage to give it to another charity in our town!

    • I was told today that the Salvos have a franchise system where you pay them $10000 pa and you can set up a Salvos store. Given that they are operated by volunteer labour (centrelink benefits require volunteer work) sounds very
      lucrative to me.

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